Melbourne City. What a place. The art, the shopping, the people, the food, the culture, the coffee, the sites, the food……oh man… The Food. It is the hospitality capital of Australia, which essentially guarantees a good eatin’ time, no matter your budget. The competition keeps prices down and there is something for everyone. Diner style burgers, fresh sashimi, bold curries, exotic street food, gelato and oozing donuts all within a couple of blocks from our inner city apartment.
My friend, Jake, manages a thai Bar and Restaurant in the heart of the city. Pulling up pews directly at the bar became a bit of a ritual, a hobby even; starting off with a Negroni or two, ordering a spicy kale and cashew salad giving Jake a look that said “You know the drill, just keep it comin'”. Sitting at the bar ensured there was no messing around; you nod, out comes the fragrant seafood broth with fresh mussels and squid. You grimace and exhale loudly in pain, a round of beers slide toward you ensuring your food hole stays lubricated…. which is especially important when you are battling your way through mouthfuls of thai cuisine which in this place, were traditionally “why am I sweating so goddam much?” hot, while being seductively delicious.
Food and drink is a big deal in Melbourne. People dedicate their whole lives to it. If they do a good job, they are kept happy with beautifully equipped kitchens, bars, menus, equipment and regular patronage. Working here I learned how to pair liquor and food, how to run a rooftop cocktail bar, how to order and how to eat. More importantly, I learned that living sustainably in one of the worlds biggest cities can be pretty rough. You are presented with vibrant cuisine and polished service , yet as soon as you step out to the street and walk past stinking alleyway after stinking alleyway you see steaming piles of rubbish heaving up the walls. Walking through very questionable streams of garbage juice which leak from every lane is unavoidable. It is pretty obvious that the realities of such high demand for bigger and better dining experiences are pretty ugly and sometimes, downright worrying.
Take a quick peek at this wee infographic for a better idea of the food waste problem in Melbourne.
To discount the many positives of living in this beautiful city would be wrong. I must admit, Melbourne really is an incredibly ‘liveable city’, especially if like me, your obsessions with ‘living green’ are verging on neurotic. Trams run on electricity and make ditching the car an obvious choice. There are stands dotted around the city with communal ‘pay as you go’ bikes and helmets. The main street is car free which opens it up for foot traffic and tram lines. Even the scummy bar where I worked made sure we recycled the hundreds of glass bottles we chewed through every night. There is a real sense of communal responsibility for the cities eco-footprint.
Now to change it up. I have recently committed myself to living the student life for the next two years, or “dat povo life” as my partner and I like to call it. Yes, it is great to be learning new things and immersing myself in the academic culture of Dunedin I have so craved for the past three years. But it really does require a shift in perspective… mainly a shift towards being broke and short on time. I want to create a blog that reflects on living the most sustainable life possible as a ‘struggling student’. Does financial status effect our ability to reduce our food waste or does unavoidable scrimping make the more ethical choices harder to get our hands on?
Feature image (cityscape) sourced through Wikimedia under creative commons license
All other images belong to EC, the creator of this blog